Sunday, January 7, 2018

M0021: Leo Rex et Simius

M0020 - M0021 - M0022

21. Leo Rex et Simius. Cum se ferarum regem fecisset, leo bonam famam consequi voluit, more regum. Prioribus suis fatis ferocibus renuntians, mutavit consuetudinem; sine sanguine cibum sumere iuravit. Postea de hac re coepit habere paenitentiam et, dum mutare non posset naturam, coepit aliquos ducere in secreto ut falleret et quaerere si os feteret. Et illos qui dicebant fetet et putet, ac illos qui dicebant non putet aut tacebant, omnes dilaniabat. Postea simium interrogabat si putidum haberet os. Ille cinnamomum dixit et quasi deorum altaria. Leo erubuit laudatorem ut illi tunc parceret. Sed postea languere se simulavit. Et continuo venerunt medici et suadent sumere cibum levem, qui tolleret fastidium pro digestione. At leo, ut regibus omnia licent, “Ignota est mihi caro simii; eam probare vellem.”

leonis conversatio fallax

Click here for a SLIDESHOW of all the colored Steinhowel images. I like the way that the lion is attended by a human doctor!

M0021 = Perry514. Source: Steinhowel 3.20 (shortened). This is Perry 514. Cinnamon was an extremely valuable and exotic commodity both in the ancient Greco-Roman world and in medieval Europe, brought all the way from the “Spice Islands” of Indonesia. Compare the hypocrisy of the fox and the cat, #392.

21. The Lion-King and the Monkey. When the lion made himself king of the beasts, he wanted to acquire a good reputation, as is the custom of kings. He renounced his ferocious destiny of before and changed his habits; he vowed to consume food without blood. Afterwards, he began to regret this thing and, since he could not change his nature, he began to lead certain creatures away in secret, as a trick, and to ask if his breath smelled bad. And those who said that it stank and smelled bad, and also those who said that it did not speak or who were silent, he tore them all to pieces. Then he asked the monkey if he had bad breath. The monkey said that his breath resembled cinnamon, like the altars of the gods. The lion was put to shame by this flatterer, so much so that he spared him. But later he pretended to be sick. The doctors came right away and advised him to consume some light food which his troubled stomach would be able to digest. And since all things are permitted to kings, the lion said, "I've never tried monkey flesh; I'd like to give that a try."


  1. -coepit aliquos ducere in secreto ut falleret et quaerere si os fetet.-
    Quaerere is interesting. It would make more sense if it were an imperfect subjunctive like falleret. It could be a medieval use of the infinitive as purpose phrase, something you would never see in classical Latin.
    If it is a prolate infinitive after coepit it is a long way away from its modifying verb coepit.

  2. it's really just a matter of style here more than classical v. medieval. it can work your way, but then there is quite a subjunctive pile-up, whereas the infinitive expresses the actual narrative of events: coepit ducere... coepit quaerere... and the infinitive is not far its verb, especially given the similar structure as each infinitive is taking a subordinate clause: coepit ducere ut... coepit quaerere si...

  3. On second reading it is best read as a modal infinitive, as you suggest. I have dealt with subjunctive pile up before, and now I know its technical name!
    If I were writing in English I would repeat the modal verb began, for clarity, if there was significant distance and another clause in between.
    If I were writing in Latin I have no idea what I'd do.

  4. Oh, you should do some writing in Latin and see what you think. A fun way to get started is to put verse into prose and just see what prose options appeal to you. English has some of the most rigid word order requirements of any language in the world, and Latin has almost no word order requirements at all, which means it is a great way to limber up your mind to go wild with Latin word order.

  5. What do you mean by verse into prose? Latin or English verse?
    In any rate I shall try it.
    We in England have some fantastic Latin textbooks: colebourne, Kennedy, North and Hillard, most over a hundred years old. I am using NH's prose exercises.
    Also, we decline in a different order to Americans! A recent development by Kennedy, apparently, to put accusative before genitive.